The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. The Industry Standard (USA) – Gartner: Rise of virtual worlds will lead to dress codes for avatars. “Don’t get too attached to that avatar of a punk rock angel you spent five hours designing in Second Life. According to Gartner, if you think you’ll be doing work-related tasks in virtual worlds in the coming years, chances are your employer is going to establish dress codes that governs how the avatar looks and behaves — and halo-wearing, flying rockers just won’t cut it. The research firm says by the end of 2013, “70 percent of enterprises will have behavior guidelines and dress codes established for all employees who have avatars associated with the enterprise inside a virtual environment.”

2. GigaOM (USA) – Is Augmented Reality Just the Beginning of the 3-D Revolution? “Augmented reality — a group of technologies that marry the virtual world with the real one — has been around for decades, and has traditionally required the use of expensive and specialized equipment. But the proliferation of smartphones that have cameras, displays, and even GPS and other sensors on them has enabled a whole host of new mobile applications — Soundwalk, Wikitude and Layar, for example — that offer a glimpse at how online digital information and offline physical worlds could be combined. With such tools, virtual and real worlds have moved one step closer to one another.”

3. Earth2Tech (USA) – As Virtual Worlds Grow, More Ways to Cut Carbon. “Take one slumped economy, add some high travel prices, stir in a healthy dose of climate change anxiety, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an emerging market: virtual worlds for businesses. According to the new GigaOM Pro report “Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise Market” by Kris Tuttle and Steve Waite of Research 2.0 (subscription required), these factors are driving annual revenues for the space for businesses up to $8-10 billion by 2015. While I’ve been skeptical about the emissions-reducing potential of virtual meetings in the past, Tuttle and Waite’s report indicates that the growth of enterprise-focused virtual worlds could have some real green benefits, by helping companies eliminate a higher percentage of business-related travel over time.”

4. Wired (UK) – ‘Visual Walkman’ merges real and virtual worlds. ” new augmented reality helmet that mixes the real world with computer-generated images has been developed by a student from the Netherlands. During his course at Delft University of Technology, Jurjen Caarls developed image processing technology that allowed the “mixing and filtering of information” from a range of different sensors.”

5. Kansas City Star (USA) – It’s not all play for a degree in video gaming. “Menacing, metallic and mega-gun brandishing, the cyber super soldier looms over Richard Fleming’s desk. Not exactly stereotypical for a professor’s office at Johnson County Community College? Well, as the “Gears of War” crowd might say: “Eat boot! Suck pavement! Get back into your hole!” This professor under the “Halo 3” figure teaches video game development. So lock and load, zappers of Nazi zombies or the locust horde. All those hours wearing out your thumbs in front of “Halo” or “Gears” actually could mean a college degree and fast career path.”

6. Hartford Courant (USA) – Wonder Rotunda Fills A Niche. “‘I think this is educational,” observes my 8-year-old stepson, about half an hour after logging on to Wonder Rotunda, a website aimed at kids that was recently launched by a suburban dad. I wonder briefly if the jig is up, but he continues to explore the virtual theme park, intrigued by the prospect of winning and spending the game’s “wonder dollars” to buy virtual food and loot with which to decorate his virtual treehouse.”

7. Wall Street Journal (USA) – Your Second Life Avatar Is Dressed Inappropriately. “Don’t show up to your company’s virtual meeting wearing a tail. And by all means, do not come dressed as a goblin. That’s one of the takeaways from a new Gartner report on corporate avatar etiquette. As businesses use virtual environments such as Second Life, Gartner researcher Jim Lundy said he’s been fielding more questions from companies about protocols for appropriate business use of avatars and virtual environments. He predicts that by 2013, most of them will have such guidelines in place.”

8. AFP (USA) – Imagine Peace Tower lights in Second Life. “Just hours after Friday’s annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, a virtual version of the tribute to late Beatle John Lennon opened in online world Second Life. “I hope we will all come to visit it when it lights up every sunset time, as it spreads our wishes of peace throughout Second Life,” Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono said Friday in a message at her website. “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world.” Ono’s avatar spoke at the Second Life lighting ceremony, and then danced with others until a virtual dawn.”

9. CNET (USA) – The future of iPhone games. “With the release of “2012,” the iPhone app tied to the forthcoming Sony Pictures film of the same name, a group of developers may have kicked off the future of games on the hit smartphone. While the game itself is fairly simple and lasts just minutes, it incorporates features that may never have been tried before, and as such, could be among the small number of titles that are showcasing what will soon be considered par for the course. In the minds of many industry observers, thanks to its integration of a functional operating system, an accelerometer, GPS and a camera, and the fact that thousands of developers, big and small, have released games for the iPhone, the Apple device has already surpassed Sony’s PSP and Nintendo’s DS as the most important, or at least most adaptable, portable gaming platform.”

10. (NZ) – Review: Aion. “It’s impossible to review a MMORPG without making a comparison to World of Warcraft. With its huge following none have come close to being able to match it, although a few recent games have tried. This has now changed, because with Guild Wars, Lineage and City of Heroes under its belt NCSoft have finally released what can only be described as a work of MMORPG art. Set in the world of Atreia, the lands are split between the Seraphim Lords (the Elyos) and the forces of the earth (the Asmodians). As a new player you must select between either of these two races. ”

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